What's the most reliable type of car?

Do gadget-laden luxury cars and high-tech hybrids suffer more faults than simple small hatchbacks? We reveal the most and least reliable car classes...

Reliability survey

If a car has more electrical systems on it, there's a higher risk of something going wrong, right? Well, to find out if that's true we've analysed the data for more than 18,000 vehicles that owners told us about in our annual What Car? Reliability Survey, conducted in association with MotorEasy. 

We've split the data into 10 different car classes, spanning everything from city and small cars to luxury SUVs, and rounded up the average Reliability Rating for each.

This rating is based on the number and severity of the faults that owners told us about for each car, with the data covering vehicles aged up to five years old from 31 brands.

So, from worst to best, here are the most – and least – dependable types of car.

10. Luxury SUVs

Reliability rating 86.5%

It's a real tale of two halves in this class, with some models proving impressively durable, but others letting the side down badly.

Volkswagen Touareg

The highest-scoring luxury SUVs is the previous-generation Volkswagen Touareg, which is ageing well even though it is coming up to its 10th birthday. Most of the examples aged up to five years old we were told about had no faults, and those that did all remained driveable. Half took more than a week to put right, but no owners were charged for repairs. No wonder it gained a reliability rating of 96.0%. 

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Range Rover

In contrast, Land Rover models filled the bottom three slots in this car class: the previous-generation Discovery scored 82.5%, the Range Rover Velar 77.9% and the current Range Rover just 69.3%, putting it in last place.

Owners told us that 35% of Range Rovers had a problem and that a third of them cost more than £1000 to put right, with faults that kept the cars off the road for more than a week. 

See the full reliability chart for luxury SUVs >>

9. Luxury cars

Reliability rating  90.4%

As with their SUV counterparts, some luxury saloons sail through life with hardly a fault, while others are dogged by costly issues. But here dependability doesn't appear to be brand-specific, with Jaguar taking the top and bottom spots in the class. 

Jaguar XJ front - bright blue

Although 31% of Jaguar XJs had a problem, most of these were minor electrical niggles that didn't prevent the cars from being driven and that were sorted out in less than a day under warranty.

Save money on a Jaguar XJ with What Car? >>

Jaguar XF

At the other end of the spectrum, 37% of Jaguar XFs suffered a problem. Although most cars could still be driven and were fixed the same day, the majority of owners had to pay up to £200 for each repair bill.  

See the full reliability chart for luxury cars >>

8. Large SUVs

Reliability rating  91.0%

There's more than 20% between the ratings of the best large SUV and the worst, so again if you're considering buying one of these it's definitely worth checking out the scores before you do.  

Toyota RAV4

The 2013-2019 Toyota RAV4 is the most dependable, with a score of 99.5%. Only 3% of cars had any trouble and non-engine electrics was the sole area affected. All fixes were carried out under warranty and completed in less than a week. 

Save money on a Toyota RAV4 with What Car? >>

Nissan X-Trail

On the other hand, with a lowly rating of 77.1%, the Nissan X-Trail isn't as tough as it looks. In fact, 39% of cars had a fault, and there were problems in 11 of our 14 fault categories. Around half of cars were repaired the same day, but the others were off the road for more than a week. While many were fixed for free, some owners had to pay up to £1500.

See the full reliability chart for large SUVs >>

Next: more car classes rated for reliability >>

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